WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It’s known in milspeak as RC-East, the vast, rugged and mountainous east of Afghanistan, where battle-hardened insurgents vow to wait out U.S. military might and the final phase of the decade-long war in Afghanistan is likely to be decided.
With a dwindling force, a ticking clock and a patient enemy, it appears doubtful that President Barack Obama can hope for more than to hold on to the fragile security gains U.S.-led NATO forces have already made there.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw some U.S. troops from Afghanistan this year will take soldiers out of the country’s restive east, where battles between foreign troops and militants suspected in high-profile attacks increasingly make it the war’s focus, a top U.S. commander said on Tuesday.
“We’re expecting to contribute a modest amount to the remaining drawdown that has to occur between now and December,” U.S. Army Major General Daniel Allyn, who commands about 33,000 U.S. and NATO soldiers in eastern Afghanistan, said in an interview with Reuters.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After a very public falling out between Pakistan and the Pentagon, the U.S. military’s new leaders are unlikely to replicate the close bond that the outgoing U.S. military boss had with his Pakistani peer.
Nor will they want to.
The “Pakistani problem,” at least as far as critical security ties go, is now in the hands of General Martin Dempsey, who became U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman this month, and Leon Panetta, who became defense secretary in July.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House’s attempts to set a fresh course with Pakistan are being hobbled by bad options, bureaucratic tensions and the desire to avoid severing a vexing but critical relationship.
In the wake of a blunt and public accusation by the top U.S. military officer that Pakistani intelligence supported a militant attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, officials at the Pentagon, State Department and White House are urgently debating an array of unattractive choices.
ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States moved to ease tensions with Islamabad on Friday, telling Pakistan it would not send ground troops to attack militant positions in North Waziristan even as anti-American protests flared around the country.
The demonstrations by religious parties broke out in several Pakistani cities just a day after political leaders joined in rejecting U.S. accusations that Islamabad was supporting militants.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday announced sanctions on individuals it said were linked to militant groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but stopped short of declaring the Haqqani network, blamed for recent attacks on American targets, a terrorist group.
“These financiers and facilitators provide the fuel for the Taliban, Haqqani Network and al-Qaeda to realize their violent aspirations,” Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said in a statement.
WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – U.S. and Pakistani officials are continuing talks on the future U.S. military mission in Pakistan but Washington likely will see its influence on Pakistani special forces curtailed as tensions rage between the two nations.
A U.S. official said both countries had been discussing an agreement that would authorize between 100 and 150 U.S. military personnel to be stationed in Pakistan, fewer than have been there in the recent past.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Support is growing in the U.S. Congress for expanding American military action in Pakistan beyond drone strikes already used to target militants in Pakistani territory, a senior Republican U.S. senator says.
The comments by Senator Lindsey Graham, an influential Republican voice on foreign policy and military affairs, follow remarks by the top U.S. military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, accusing Pakistan last week of supporting the militant Haqqani network’s September 13 attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and Pakistan unleashed a war of words this week as Washington accused Islamabad of involvement in attacks on U.S. targets in Kabul, and Pakistan warned against a rupture in an already strained relationship crucial to U.S. success in Afghanistan.
Years of intermittent feuds between the two countries, nominally united against Islamist extremists, have escalated into an ugly feud over a shockingly blunt U.S accusation.
ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Pakistan warned the United States it risked losing an ally if it kept accusing Islamabad of playing a double game in the war against militancy, escalating the crisis in relations between the two countries.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar was responding to comments by Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, who said Pakistan’s top spy agency supported attacks on the U.S. Embassy and other targets by the Haqqani network, the most violent and effective faction among Islamist Taliban militants in Afghanistan.